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California Focus: California kids holding own in math, science

Maybe it’s time to stop the steady stream of handwringing over how poorly America’s schoolkids, and California’s in particular, perform in subjects like math and science and realize they are actually doing OK, even if there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

That’s the takeaway from 2011 test scores in the Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMS), an exam given by some states and 46 other countries and provinces. The 2011 results, latest available, were released this fall.

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Coastal Voices: Federal government is looking to own you

What if there was a simple non-invasive test that would show whether you had a propensity to get certain cancers or heart disease or kidney failure or were prone to get diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease sometime in the future and it only cost $99.

Would you order it?  This seems to be in the realm of science fiction, but actually is available today with current technology.

According to Wikipedia, 23andme Inc. has been marketing a simple test that uses a swab of the inside of the cheek and then runs the results through genetic testing to find out what your own genes reveal about you.  Using the results, a woman can find out her probability of getting breast cancer or a male can find out the chances of getting testicular cancer many years before the disease manifests itself.

In this way individuals, in consultation with a physician, can be proactive about their own health, modifying behaviors that can mitigate the chances of actually developing diseases. The term 23andme refers to the human DNA that consists of 23 pairs of chromosomes plus you, hence the name 23andme.

The company’s saliva-based, mail order test identifies over 240 genetic traits that offer clues to a person’s overall health. This test has been taken by hundreds of thousands of people. In addition to giving indications as to the probability of developing specific health issues in the future, it also gives the likelihood of negative drug reactions. Now a person can know in advance what the possibilities are that certain drugs will react negatively in the body.

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California Focus: What if Jerry Brown decides he won't run?

There could be no better Christmas present for bunches of Democratic politicians than an announcement from Gov. Jerry Brown that he will not seek a second straight term in office, fourth of his lifetime.

Already the longest-serving governor in California history, Brown will be 76 if he stands for re-election next year and 77 barely three months into his fourth term, if re-elected. The question is, does he wants to?.

He’s hinted he does, of course, talking occasionally about his wish to see through the budgetary reforms he instituted after being elected in 2010 and a desire for a lasting legacy of leaving the California economy in good shape.

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Coastal Voices: Board actions motivated by its survival instincts

As long-time members of this community our interest in Sutter Coast Hospital extends beyond our fiduciary responsibility as members of the Board of Directors. Preserving quality health care options for this rural region is critical to our well-being and that of our family, friends and neighbors.

On Thursday night, the Sutter Coast Board of Directors took thoughtful, decisive action designed to help ensure that Sutter Coast is financially viable and able to meet the health care needs of our community now and in the future. At the heart of this action is confirmation of Sutter Coast Hospital’s continued affiliation with Sutter Health as the best option to continue quality care for our community and retain our valued employees and physician foundation.

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Church Notebook: Holiday activities pick up at various local churches

Was it ever cold!

I hadn’t gone to the window to look out Tuesday morning — I just noticed the sunshine streaming in and thought it would be a pretty nice day.

Until I stepped outside.

I was heading for my last pre-op stuff in Grants Pass, and had given no thought to any need for clearing frost from my truck windows.

And it turned out to be one hard frost to clear! (I stopped carrying a scraper ages ago!)

Grumbling to myself as I cleaned the stuff away with one of my grocery store cards so I could see to head out, I mumbled, “And I left New York to get away from this stuff!”

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Blankenship was a winner in three sports

It is the time of year when I have to stop and realize how blessed I have been to have had the privilege of being a Warrior player, coach and fan and getting to know and work with the hundreds of young people I have grown to love and respect.

It is always fun to look back at individuals or teams that have given me such great memories.

Colin Blankenship, class of ’85, is one of those special people. I had the privilege of being one of Colin’s football coaches while he was at Del Norte.

Colin was a true multi-sport athlete, playing football, basketball and tennis while a Warrior.

He started his football career as a freshman on the JV team, which had a 5-3 record. He showed that he was going to be a skilled player
both as a defensive back a nd a receiver. As a sophomore he continued football at the JV level and moved to varsity as a junior.
During his senior year he was selected to the Humboldt Del Norte League All-League Team.

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Newfound ‘victories’ await you this season

The following was written by Father Adam Kotas of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Crescent City. Other local clergy members are invited to email holiday messages to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Having celebrated Thanksgiving, we are now hastily getting ready for another festivity: Christmas.

Both are occasions to be thankful, but are we really grateful? I am reminded of one Peanuts comic strip where Snoopy took one look at his dog food on Thanksgiving Day and said, “This isn’t fair. The rest of the world today is eating turkey with all the trimmings and all I get is dog food.”

So often we too fall into this same victim mentality just like Snoopy. But, just like Snoopy realized he is not a victim but rather victorious, we too, can come to that same conclusion in our life through an “aha moment” called grace.

You see as Snoopy stood there and stared at his dog food for a moment he comprehended finally the message of this sacred season during which we celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas, and so Snoopy in his newfound understanding through grace said: “I guess it could be worse. I could be a turkey.”

Many times we are just like Snoopy, complaining and ranting and raving about how bad our life is. We have a victim mentality. This holy and grace-filled season reminds us to stop complaining and to rid ourselves of our victim mentality.

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Church Notebook: Local Christmas music slated at various venues

I just don’t understand it!

Shopping for Christmas (or just simply trying to pick up a few needed things) is difficult enough without having all these special days when the stores are crowded and people so focused on their own wants that they have no patience for others.

Before I needed a handicap parking space, I never noticed the cars parked in them that displayed neither plate nor placard indicating their legitimacy. Or the obviously healthy young woman who says laughingly to her friend, “It can’t be a problem, I’m only going to be a minute,” as she exits the car she has just parked in a handicap space. Or the folks, gathered in the middle of the aisle in the store deep in conversation who see you using the motorized shopping cart and act as if you aren’t even there. I suppose they think it’s no problem — after all, you are sitting!

Perhaps the pain is making me grumpier than usual. (I’ll be getting this hip replaced in a couple of weeks.)

But what about all those other folks — the ones whose needs for access are even greater than mine?

It’s usually in my New Year’s column that I address the need for more courtesy and understanding of others. A sort of resolution thing for the new year. But lately, in addition to my own hassles, I’ve heard so many others complaining about a lack of respect, both in the stores and on the road, that I decided perhaps before Christmas might be a better time to plead for us all to be more considerate.

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Coastal Voices: Micks should fill out DA term

We sent this letter recently to the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors:

The District Attorney’s Office prosecutes the criminal cases in Del Norte County. We are responsible for upholding the law and maintaining order in our community. The four criminal prosecutors work under the leadership of the district attorney or acting district attorney to ensure that justice is done in every case.

It is a difficult task, considering the numerous criminal cases we file each year. Every case is unique. Many of the cases are complex. The criminal prosecutors need an intelligent, strong, and ethical leader who can establish teamwork, trust, and continuity in our office.

Ms. Katherine Micks has done an exceptional job facilitating all of that. Ms. Micks stepped into the role of acting district attorney after our office fell into disarray. She is an intelligent, strong, and ethical leader, who already had the trust of the office from her prior years of service here as the assistant district attorney. We, as the prosecutors, work well under her and fully support her.

She has established the teamwork and continuity that we need and also improved efficiency and morale.

Ms. Micks reorganized the office and also streamlined the prosecution process. She initiated team meetings with the prosecutors, investigators, and support staff. She also has an open door policy for the local law enforcement agencies to contact her about any cases.

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Church Notebook: Church hosts early Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving is almost here. Most likely your plans are made and you are preparing either to travel or entertain guests.

Those of my family who are here will be getting together, but it’s a small number compared to the total. There’s one change for me here — I have a new son-in-law. Out of the area, I have a new great-granddaughter.

At any rate, being a major holiday, we can expect visitors to our little city, in our stores and our churches, and we certainly want them to leave feeling good about us. Be sure to smile even if they are strangers — it makes a difference!

I was coming out of Safeway recently, tired, and my pain level with this hip was “way up there.” All I wanted was to get home and flop in my recliner for a while. A gentleman I did not know passed me, and as he was entering the store flashed me a beautiful smile — it could not relieve my pain, but it sure gave my attitude a big lift!

We’re going to be fairly busy from here on out, I think.

• Sunday the Redwoods Family Worship Center will be hosting a special Thanksgiving service at 10:30 a.m., followed with a free Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. The church invites you to attend.

Sunday evening at 5 p.m., there will be a “Soup Surprise and Movie Night.” A beef broth soup is provided, and members are encouraged to bring their favorite ingredients to add to it making it a surprise. The movie will be a surprise as well. All are invited to come and celebrate the beginning of the holidays.

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